house prices
Mortgage approvals trending upwards ahead of UK election Reuters

The number of mortgages being approved in the UK increased in March, according to the British Bankers Association (BBA).

Figures from the BBA show 38,751 house-purchase mortgages were offered in March, up from the 37,453 in the previous month, the highest number for half a year.

The March figure was around 14% lower than the same month in the previous year.

The picture has improved as a result of lower mortgage rates being offered, the BBA said. Earlier this month the UK saw its first ever five-year mortgage at a rate below 2%, a move that could spark a price war among lenders.

"The third successive modest rise in mortgage approvals ties in with our belief that housing market activity is now gradually turning around," said IHS chief UK and Europe economist Howard Archer.

The figures follow a recent report from the UK's Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) in which it reported a similar pattern of improved lending to homebuyers.

Lenders have been able to reduce rates as the Bank of England has shown no sign that it is set to raise interest rates in the near future.